Leveraging public safety in the City of Fresno. Mayor Ashley Swearengin warns of dire consequences if trash pickup isn't privatized by the end of this year. The city council is scheduled to vote on the matter next week.
According to the city, it's a win win for residents. If trash pickup in privatized, collection rates go down and we get to keep the same number of police officers protecting us on the streets. But opponents say it's all a lie.
Trash pickup and public safety are both city services, but soon one may be sold to a private company. The other would benefit from the $2.5 million dollars in franchise fees collected by the city each year. Tuesday, the mayor and Chief Jerry Dyer join forces to support privatization.
"The options, should the franchise not move forward next Thursday, are very grave and obviously have a tremendous impact on public safety services," said Swearengin.
Police officer's salaries make up the majority of the general fund budget. If there's a shortfall, the city says there's almost no where else to cut. Although officers won't be fired, the roughly 20 officers who retire each year will not be replaced. The department has already lost over a hundred officers in the last few years. Dyer says further reductions would come from investigative and preventative units.
"When that happens there are consequences in terms of potential crime increases," said Dyer.
Meanwhile, the trash haulers union representative doesn't believe the ultimatum.
"I doubt very much that they would do what they say they would do," said Marina Magdaleno of Local 39.
She also doesn't think it's possible for a private company to provide the same services while charging less, plus pay the haulers a fair wage and pay the franchise fee.
The city wants the franchise approved to avoid mid-year budget cuts and before new council members are sworn in. It's widely assumed the council vote will be close on Thursday, Nov. 29th, but will ultimately favor privatizing.